Congrats to Cynthia Falcon, Thursday’s winner! Email me with your snail mail addy, and I’ll give you a list of books to choose from.

Ms. Eloisa James took me for tea and scones at the beginning of the day, and she was kind enough to ask about my book. I’d never tried to pitch my book before, and let’s just say – that fact was obvious. I rambled, I hedged, I wanted to stick a coffee stirrer in my eye. But she listened very patiently and then gave me tips on how to pitch it right. Here’s some of her advice:

If you’re pitching to an editor, know the house’s line and how your book would fit in. In my case, since I have a light, humorous Regency I’m trying to sell to Avon, EJ said I should come out and say, “This is a light, humorous Regency, along the lines of Eloisa James and Julia Quinn’s books.” Okay, so just typing that sentence verges on blasphemy, but really – she said to say it. The reason is, publishing houses follow a pattern. Say a publisher brings out 10 books a month, and 3 are historicals. And of those, one is a darker Regency, and one is a romp, and one is a non-Regency historical. They need to know how the book you’re pitching fits into the pattern.

Don’t be afraid to stereotype your characters. EJ kept trying to pin labels on my h/h. “So he’s a tortured alpha,” … Read More »


Please excuse tardiness of this post and lack of cute pictures. Every member of the Dare household has succumbed to a yucky cold.

But congratulations to Christina, yesterday’s winner! Yay! Email me with your snail mail address, please.

So after my lunch at Saks, we returned to HarperCollins HQ, and I was introduced to Carolyn Pittis, Senior VP of Global Marketing Strategy and Operations (yeah, she had a nice office!) Carolyn talked to me about FanLit as a marketing tool – what they hoped to gain from the program, how the results matched their expectations, and what they have in mind for next time.

One in two paperbacks sold in the U.S. is a romance novel – as we all know, it’s a huge market. Through FanLit, Avon/HarperCollins wanted to reach out to romance readers and aspiring authors and create a community that allowed us, the end users, to feel connected to each other and the people who create the books (authors, editors, etc.). We all know that goal was achieved! Sites like Fanlit Forever and Romance Vagabonds and all our individual blogs bear witness to FanLit’s enduring esprit de corps.

It was really interesting to hear Carolyn talk about the HarperTeen event that followed the Avon FanLit, and how the two groups compared. HarperTeen drew more participants initially, but evidently teens are more fickle than we (ahem) more mature romance readers. Their participation dropped off sharply each week, and their individual visits to the site were in-and-out, while … Read More »

I have a mini-blog today on the official FanLit site. I’d be much obliged if you have time to come over and say ‘hi’ there, too – so I don’t feel lonely! You have to sign into the site to comment, but maybe some of you remember your passwords?

The linkRead More »


Congrats to Leigh, yesterday’s winner! Please email me with your snail mail address, and to choose your extra book.

I had the great pleasure of having lunch at Saks with Avon editors Tessa Woodward and Esi Sogah. Tessa and Esi are good people to know. Not just because they’re fun, smart, sassy women, but because they read ALL the queries that come to Avon. That’s right – ALL the queries. They take turns – one week, Tessa will read them, and the next week, it will be Esi’s turn. Most of the questions people gave me beforehand had to do with queries and submissions, and Tessa and Esi were happy to dish. Here’s a primer on how NOT to query Avon:

Don’t describe your book in vague terms. (“It’s a thrilling story of love and adventure!”) Be specific about what sets your plot apart and makes your characters unique.

Don’t spend five paragraphs talking about yourself and one paragraph describing your book.

If you get a form letter rejection, don’t write back and accuse them of not reading your query. They read every query. Every. Query.

If you get rejected, don’t write back and tell them they clearly have no taste in books.

Don’t resubmit the same query the next week. They do talk amongst themselves, and they do remember.

Don’t resend the same query addressed to a different editor. As I said, in any given week, they all go to one person.

If you’re asked to submit a partial, … Read More »


Thanks to everyone who stopped by yesterday! I hope you guys are enjoying this as much as I am. Congrats to Kelly Rardon, winner of the Caskie ARC, tote, and book of her choice! (Email me, Kelly, and I’ll let you know your choices.)

So after that fascinating introduction to cover art, I visited the Publicity department. Pam Spengler-Jaffee and Shari Newman invited me in, loaded me up with goodies, and gave me great tips about how an author should promote herself and her books. These bright (and yes, nice!) ladies might publicize 20-30 books a month, sending out press releases and review copies. So authors need to be on the ball to promote themselves and their releases, too.

A few highlights:

*A major theme was that authors need to nurture their own readership by reaching out to readers and keeping open lines of communication with them. Networking with other authors, reviewers, editors, and other people in publishing is also important.

*To that end, websites, blogs, and email lists are essential. And Pam says authors should keep them interesting and current. Run contests, review books, host forums or chat, send out e-newsletters, etc. Pam talked about how this helps keep readers interested in the gap between book release dates.

*Authors should cultivate close relationships with their local booksellers, especially any romance specialists, and offer to do events and booksignings.

*Authors should also be aware of their local media, especially human-interest columnists and book reviewers for the local paper. … Read More »


My first stop on my Grand Tour de Avon was the art department where all the HarperCollins mass-market paperback covers are created. My guide, Will, was awfully nice (get used to me saying everyone was nice, because everyone just was) and terribly cute. (I’m quite certain he would blush if he read that, which is why I wrote it.)

So Will began by showing me some of the original paintings used for Avon covers. From what I gather, the editorial team comes up with the initial ideas for the covers – they tell the art people roughly how the characters should look (hair and eye color) and be dressed, and if there are any key scenes that would make for a compelling cover. Although a lot of publishers are moving to computer-generated art, Avon still commissions actual paintings for most of their romance covers. They often start with a photo shoot, with models in period costume, and then they send the photos to the artist. I got to see some of the paintings up close (alas, not the models!), and they are beautiful. Some of the authors choose to buy the paintings after the covers are done – I can understand why!

I saw the original painting for the cover of Jenna Petersen’s Desire Never Dies. Interestingly, that painting featured quite a bit of heroic posterior that didn’t quite make it onto the cover! This led to an interesting conversation about the impact of Wal-Mart on cover art. … Read More »

This message is just a little placeholder. I have so much to tell you about my day at Avon, I’ll have to break it up throughout the week. So come back every day, Monday through Friday, for a new post – I’ll be giving away a different prize everyday!

In other news, my good friend and CP “Amy” from Fanlit has a new website and blog under her pen name, India Carolina. Check it out!

And yes, for those asking – Tessa Woodward said I could send her my manuscript. Yay!… Read More »

Okay, my day with Avon was fabulous! I wish I had time to tell you all about it, but I’ll just give you a brief update now and spread the details out over the week, I think.

I started out the day having tea with Ms. Eloisa, which was delightful. She was extremely gracious and gave me some great tips for pitching my book, and we talked about kids and life and her books, and it was just great. Plus, I’ve got a signed ARC of Desperate Duchesses now!

Tessa Woodward squired me around for the rest of the day, and she is just about the nicest person ever. I met people in publicity and marketing and cover art and the publisher (all of which I’ll detail in future posts), and we went to lunch with another of the editors, Esi Sogah, who is extremely fun and witty. Tessa and Esi are the first filter for all queries and manuscripts submitted to Avon, and they had a lot of entertaining ‘cautionary tales’ about bad author etiquette – things none of you would do anyway, but I’ll give you the details in a future post.

I left the building with three bags full of books – and now my challenge is to pack them up before I need to check out of the hotel. So I have to sign off for now! More later.

Oh, I will tell you this – contrary to what many supposed, the Avon editors DID read … Read More »

Just wanted to say thanks for all the great questions, and for all the kind wishes. I’m frantically getting ready to leave tomorrow – haven’t even started packing, but at least I got my nails done last night!

Watch this space – I may not have time to post Friday night, but I’ll try to give you an update sometime Saturday. I’ve also been asked to guestblog over on the official FanLit site (did you know that blog is still going? I didn’t!) next Tuesday.

Have a great weekend, everyone!… Read More »

This has been an awesome few days. A professional personage who is NOT a friend/CP/relative was kind enough to read GOTH, and she gave me wonderfully positive feedback. I got my final travel itinerary from Avon (this will be the first time in my life – possibly the last – that one of those guys holding signs in the luggage area will be waiting for me!). And I got my first reply to a few queries I sent out Monday – an agent requested pages!

So I’ve done a bit of happy dancing.

But before I go completely distracted, I invite anyone and everyone who might have a question for Avon to post away. I may not be able to work them all into conversation, but I’ll do my best. Anything you’re dying to ask about industry trends, cover art, the publishing process, etc…. If you’re wondering about it, I probably should be wondering, too!

Happy Easter or Passover to those who celebrate!… Read More »